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How to prevent your kid from getting the ‘pink eye’

An expert lists out steps parents can follow to keep this infection at bay

Good hygiene habits can reduce the risk of kids contracting the conjunctive eye
Good hygiene habits can reduce the risk of kids contracting the conjunctive eye (Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)

Every year, we wake up to news of a conjunctive eye outbreak in schools and office places, especially during the season when the skies threaten to rain. 

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as "pink eye," is an eye condition that causes irritation, redness, and swelling of the conjunctiva, the thin clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye. It is an airborne condition which is highly contagious and can become a common problem in children due to close exposure in school and daycare settings. While conjunctivitis is not usually serious, it can cause discomfort and distress for both children and parents. Fortunately, there are several steps parents can take to prevent conjunctivitis in their children.

Here's a short list of preventive measures that can be followed: 

Good hygiene habits: Good hygiene plays an important role in preventing the spread of conjunctivitis. Encourage your child to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, especially after touching any potentially contaminated surfaces as the chances of getting infected by contact with hands to the eyes increases. This simple habit can greatly reduce the chances of the conjunctivitis-causing bacteria or virus being transferred to their eyes.

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Avoid rubbing eyes: Children often have a habit of rubbing their eyes, especially when they are tired or feeling discomfort. But rubbing the eyes can introduce germs and irritate their eyes, which can lead to the condition of conjunctivitis. Gently remind your child to not rub eyes. If their eyes need cleaning, a soft clean cloth can be used to clean wipe the eyes gently.

Keep things clean: Cleaning and disinfecting things that many people touch can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis in children. Things like doorknobs, toys, and things people share, like phones or tablets. Wiping them or spraying them with special cleaning materials can get rid of germs that cause eye infections.

Avoid sharing personal items: Instruct your child to not share personal items such as towels, pillowcases, and washcloths with others. Bacteria can spread easily by sharing personal items increasing the risk of conjunctivitis transmission.

Maintain proper contact lens hygiene: If your child wears contact lenses, make sure they follow proper hygiene practices. This includes cleaning and storing lenses according to the optometrist's recommendations and avoiding sleeping with lenses in unless prescribed by an eye care professional.

Proper sleep: Sitting in front of TV, mobile or computer screen for long hours can be strenuous for the eyes. To take care of your kid's eye health, it is advised to get at least 8 hours of sleep during the day. 

Seek prompt medical attention: If your child develops symptoms of conjunctivitis, such as redness, discharge, or irritation, consult a healthcare professional. Eye drops can be suggested to use in the eye as per the suggestions of the medical expert.

 While conjunctivitis can be a common concern in children, the risk of developing it can be greatly reduced by adopting good hygiene habits and taking preventive measures. Teaching your kids the importance of cleanliness, avoiding sharing personal items, and maintaining proper hygiene at school are all important steps. By following these tips, you as a parent can protect your offspring from the discomfort of conjunctivitis while promoting overall eye health.

Dr. Murali Gopal is paediatrician, Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Chennai.

Also read: How adequate sleep could reduce impulsive behaviour in children


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